Spike TV: Feast or Famine

By Joe Masterleo on August 16, 2015
Spike TV: Feast or Famine
The appetizer was a stick-to-your-ribs affair. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Boxing is a young man’s sport, period. Like most post-prime fighters, Tarver’s mind writes checks that his body can’t cash…

Last Friday night a fistic meal was served up by Premier Boxing Champions carried on Spike TV at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The tasty appetizer consisted of crisply prepared cruiserweights, a surprising dish that surely promises to be among the delectable “fight of the year” candidates. The main course, however, left much to be desired, its leftovers best directed to the doggy, not the doggy-bag.

The hearty appetizer was a stick-to-your-ribs affair, including three exciting knockdowns and a comeback upset. In a rare display of courage and perseverance, Poland’s Krzyzstof Glowacki (25-0, 16 KOs) snatched victory from the hands of certain defeat by searing WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck (38-3-1, 26 KOs), scalding the reigning champ at the 11th hour in the 11th round.

Huck had smoked Glowacki earlier in round six, knocking him down with a big left hook to the head, whereby the champ seemed poised to roast his pureed Polish challenger. But Huck failed to turn up the heat on the griddle, allowing Glowacki to recover, leaving the oven door open for the challenger to himself braise the German champ. Ahead on all scorecards going into that fateful 11th round, Huck left himself open to the southpaw Glowacki’s straight left hand, and that was all it took to singe and skewer him.

The main course was bland. Half-baked and disappointing, it consisted of two left-over mackerels, warmed-up light heavyweights that the network tried unsuccessfully to pass off as a tantalizing “heavyweight” delight.

In that par-boiled affair, former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (31-6-1, 22 KOs) fought to a 12-round draw against former IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham (28-7-1, 13 KOs). Unfortunately, such fare was a far cry from ambrosia. On the contrary, it proved a brash insult to the discriminating palettes of boxing viewers everywhere. Though earnest, neither fighter was impressive or decisive in their ring-worn efforts. While this writer gave a slight edge to Tarver, perhaps it was fitting that the two seniors were deemed neither fish nor fowl by the judges, being handed a bittersweet draw. Even a “no contest” would have been acceptable to this viewer. As a non hearty chow-down, this shrink-wrapped main course could easily have been stamped “reduced for quick sale.”

Throughout, Cunningham was more active than Tarver, appearing more fit and hard boiled in contrast to the soft-boiled look of Tarver, who countered effectively in spurts. Nonetheless, these eggs were far less than cracked-up to be by the “Prudential” network chefs.

At age 46, Tarver was midriff puffy, so much misshapen lard who was slow afoot and hand, shades of overcooked light-heavyweight Bernard Hopkins, or for that matter, the shredded Muhammad Ali after the fight game had since passed him by.

Tarver’s much ballyhooed “ring-generalship” was network-speak for “his ring skills have been reduced to strategic thinking only, telling him when and where to throw an occasional counterpunch out of a plodding, flat-footed style.”

Boxing is a young man’s sport, period. Like most post-prime fighters, Tarver’s mind writes checks that his body can’t cash. And at age 39, Cunningham is not far behind. As for the game but ineffectual “USS Cunningham?” Let’s just say his skills have been lost somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Watching these two guys box was like watching a master concert pianist with Alzheimer’s struggling to perform with a semblance of coherence and fluency. Clearly, Tarver-Cunningham wasn’t meat and potatoes boxing, it was couch potatoes boxing.

Adding insult to viewer injury, Spike TV announcers were out to lunch attempting to mince and marinate viewer’s intelligence further by suggesting that either of these seniors, particularly the sagging Tarver, could be in line for a heavyweight title shot. Puh-leeze. Talk about pie-in-the-sky nonsense. I wonder if Donald Trump owns Spike TV also? For sure, more than a few viewers steamed, simmered or howled on that one.

While this card might not make a Food Network hit, if professional boxing ever did go to an Old-Timer’s Day or a Senior’s Tour event, such tenderized has-beens would very much make an attractive menu entry—as a gastric nostrum for insomnia.

While the appetizer didn’t quite steal the show in New Jersey last Friday, it likely staved-off a most certain indigestion had our collective eyes been left with only the main course to feast upon. So no Alka-Seltzer was necessary at bedtime.

I suppose relying on consolations is better than dispensing of them.

Much like appetizers and main courses in dining, when it comes to undercards and main events in boxing, patrons can seldom have their cake and eat it too.

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  1. KB 07:42am, 08/17/2015

    Then he wouldn’t t be Tarver

  2. Mike Casey 07:33am, 08/17/2015

    I fear you wish for the impossible, Bob.

  3. Bob 03:42am, 08/17/2015

    Why doesn’t Tarver just shut his big mouth, stop telling us what a legend he is, and go away.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:36pm, 08/16/2015

    Glowacki never down in his pro career eating straight rights all the night long….no problem….none….like he didn’t even notice. Huck comes way round the bend with a looping hook on the side of the head and bingo he’s on his back. Tarver gasping for air like a dying man before the start of the eleventh….doesn’t anyone in the corner ever take a gander across the ring and maybe give Cunningham a heads up….fat chance….anyway…. Steve-o way too involved with making it to the final bell himself.

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